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Bankruptcy threat to Italian plane crash pilot

The Pirelli skyscraper in Milan - the scene of Thursday's crash

(Keystone)

The pilot of a light aircraft that crashed into a skyscraper in the Italian city of Milan on Thursday had been swindled out of more than SFr2.5 million.

Police investigating the crash said that Luigi-Gino Fasulo's desperation could have led him to commit suicide.

A deputy chief of Milan police, Giuseppe De Angelis, said police could not rule out the theory that Fasulo had committed suicide because of his economic ups and downs.

The suicide theory was first raised by Fasulo's son, Marco, who was quoted in an Italian daily newspaper as saying his father may have taken his life because he felt cheated.

Money troubles

Fasulo, who comes from the Swiss town of Pregassona, had reportedly lent the money to a business associate, who was supposed to repay the loan on to an Austrian bank account.

On Thursday morning, just hours before the crash, Fasulo and one of his sons tried to file a complaint about the missing money with police in the northern Italian town of Como. But the authorities told him they couldn't do anything about something that had occurred in Austria.

The 67-year-old Fasulo was in desperate financial straits. He had put his plane up for sale on an Internet site for SFr115,000.

His company "Playmatic", which is a distributor of automatic machines such as jukeboxes, has been in liquidation since March.

The crash killed three people - including the pilot - and left dozens of people injured. It was initially feared to be the work of terrorists, sparking memories of the September 11 attacks in the United States.

The crash was the second air incident to hit Milan in seven months. In October last year, a Scandinavian SAS plane collided with a small private plane on the runway in Linate, killing 118 people.

swissinfo with agencies

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